Kyonanmachi is a town of around 8500 people, located on the south side of Mt. Nokogiri and spreading out towards Minamiboso. Due to the falling birthrate, Yasuda elementary school, a school with a 120 year history, closed down in March of 2014. In October 2013 a public appeal was made for a design proposal to utilize the school.
A team of people from 5 universities (Japan Women’s University, Hosei University, Yokohama National University, Waseda University, Kogakuin Univerity) tackled the utilization of Minamiboso Kyonanmachi closing school.
Although the original idea was to leave the existing gymnasium as a disaster evacuation shelter, our proposal was to convert the eye-catching gymnasium in front of Kawanami Yasuda IC exit, into a farmer’s market. The 2nd floor classrooms in the existing school building were transformed into a simple accommodation facility for visitors. The buildings were linked by the front veranda to create a ‘city engawa’ - a space where you can freely stay and interact with everyone. With this, it became a more comfortable disaster shelter than a gym floor. The bathrooms were also newly installed.
On the 1st floor of the school building there is a space to set up branches of locally run eating and drinking stores as a challenge for the next generation. It became a hanging out spot for the local people. We were glad that on the day of the completion ceremony, the grandmothers from Yasuda elementary school area were happy.
There are a lot of charming road stations in Minamiboso area. I think that from now on it is essential to continue the link between this facility and the town with the help of the town’s residents and students to demonstrate the true value as an exchange facility. We are looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd projects of this type that we have started.
Photos: Asakawa Satoshi